Can you believe 2021 is already halfway over? I have watched almost 400 brand-new releases for the year, so I feel pretty confident in selecting a top 10 (and of course a few honorable mentions!) I have only included films here that are readily available or have shown in the theater first. Read on for my personal best movies of the year and where you can watch them!


In the Heights, Caveat, I Care a Lot, Plan B, Boys from County Hell


Where to watch: VOD

The newest in the Saw franchise is an original story from Chris Rock realized into a fully-formed gorefest. It’s everything I loved about the Saw movies, taken in a bold and exciting new direction. I’ll be thinking about that hot wax trap for the rest of the year.

Favorite Scene: After Saw II, the series became know for a gory trap to open each film. Spiral gives us a train station tongue-trap that had me cringing in my seat mere minutes deep. While other traps in the movie are better overall, this opening hooked me instantly.


Where to watch: VOD

Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo are officially my new favorite comedic duo. Silly, over-the-top, fun, and laugh-out-loud hilarious. Jamie Dornan’s solo musical number alone is worth watching.

Favorite Scene: There are only a small selection of signature musical moments in Barb and Star, and one of the best scenes has them using their signature culottes as parachutes to escape hungry alligators. My personal favorite though is the “Edgar’s Prayer” musical number, which sees Dornan diving, dashing, scaling palm trees, and “doing the splits from the heart.”


Where to watch: VOD

Body horror, gorgeous cinematography, gnarly creature design, and a timely message… A focus on ecological horror puts Gaia into small (but loving) company with films like The Ruins. What a wild ride!

Favorite Scene: The first encounter with the Last of Us-like clickers establishes their dangerous nature. Every subsequent time they pop up after this, the tension is palpable.


Where to watch: VOD

If The Texas Chain Saw Massacre had a baby with Hereditary, and you tossed in some Tusk-like body horror, you’d come close to pinning down the tone of Honeydew. It’s a singular horror film, a unique, yet dark and depraved arthouse indie presenting Devereux Milburn as a visionary director.

Favorite Scene: A shocking (and incredibly effective) cameo late in the game comes with eerie body horror, and only serves to add to the film’s goopy nastiness.


Where to watch: Netflix

Like the best from Pixar, deeper messages about the importance of family and sacrifice will delight both kids and adults. Underneath the eye-popping visuals and stunning animation, The Mitchells vs. The Machines is a bold vision that reminds us to always value family.

Favorite Scene: After they arrive at the mall, the Mitchells are faced with the cutest (and scariest) of foes: the Furby! Not only is there a whole army of Furbies, but their leader, a giant Furby, is horrifying and hilarious.


Where to watch: VOD

Light romance, strong acting, and the deep darkness of Link’s overbearing persona all aid in making Mainstream one uncomfortable dive into viral video madness. Andrew Garfield has given one of the signature performances of 2021.

Favorite Scene: Andrew Garfield’s Link roams the streets like a psycho, flopping his prosthetic penis everywhere. That Garfield and company shot this sequence like a Borat-style hidden camera scenario makes it even more effective.


Where to watch: Theaters, comes to Paramount+ on July 12th

A worthy sequel to the excellent first movie, with a prologue that’s good enough to be its own movie. It’s a stunning, disturbing, and thrilling return to this world we loved from the original, with a wider scope and deeper character beats.

Favorite Scene: The one-two punch shocker of an ending gives both siblings an explosive, exciting way to step up to the plate. The proud mama tears are the cherry on top of a fantastic sequel.


Where to watch: Disney+

Disney’s The Little Mermaid meets Call Me By Your Name was just as magic and special as I was hoping it would be. This gay rights masterpiece is Pixar perfection! One of the leads, Jack Dylan Grazer, just came out as bisexual this year as well. Silenzio Bruno!

Favorite Scene: That emotional train station farewell, solidifying the bonds of friendship and causing the tears to flow like a waterfall.


Where to watch: Netflix

If Fear Street Part One: 1994 is any indication, this trilogy will go down as the best adaptation of Stine’s work to date, even though it’s not based on a particular book. It’s a gory, mysterious throwback slasher with a dollop of the supernatural that brought me back to that nostalgic feeling of childhood glee.

Favorite Scene: The finale’s merciless double-killing, one of which involves an extremely gnarly use of a bread slicer.


Where to watch: Disney+ Premiere Access

I never thought the newest live action Disney adaptation would be my favorite film released so far in 2021, but here we are. Bookended by two outrageous and fantastic performance by a pair of Hollywood’s best Emmas, Cruella scrapes a PG-13 grit through the lens of the memorable 101 Dalmatians villain. I wanted to watch this again immediately after it ended. Disney’s The Devil Wears Prada.

Favorite Scene: Ella gets ejected from a dumpster and emerges with a stunning dress made of trash. As Cruella, every fashion choice and reveal is an eye-popping delight.

Editor’s Picks: Allison’s Favorites of 2021 (So Far)

Thanks for checking out our midyear pit-stop of favorite movies! We will reconvene in January, as there are plenty more exciting films left this year. Halloween Kills, Dune, No Time to Die, West Side Story… 2021 is only halfway over!

Leave a Reply